Managing employee absences can be a challenge for any organisation. Excessive or long-term employee absence can impact productivity and profitability, and also create morale issues among employees.

However, there are a number of powerful absence management strategies that organisations can use to minimise the impact of absences and improve overall employee productivity.

We have put together a list of 8 crucial absence management strategies for 2022, alongside an overall guide to the absence management process and how you can improve yours. Let’s get started!

What is Absence Management in HR?

The HR department is responsible for a wide variety of tasks, from recruiting and onboarding to benefits, administration and employee relations, as well as managing employee absences.

An absence management system is a tool used by HR departments to track employee absences, whether they’re due to holidays, sick days, or other personal reasons. By tracking employee absences, HR can ensure that absences are properly documented and that employees are taking the appropriate amount of time off work.

What Does the Absence Management Process Involve?

The absence management process in your company should include:

  • An absence management policy: A good absence management policy will involve managing sickness absence, unauthorised absence, and authorised absence.
  • A clear process for reporting and managing absences: This process should involve both managers and HR, and should be clear to all employees. This could also include any software or tools used to manage long and short-term absences.
  • Effective communication: Effective communication is essential to managing employee absences effectively. This includes communicating the absence policy to employees, as well as keeping managers and HR updated on any changes or updates to the policy, with clear procedures related to how to inform employees of these changes.

Why is Absence Management Important in 2022?

There are a number of reasons why absence management is important in 2022 and beyond. As the world settles into a new hybrid way of working, with more employees working remotely than ever before, it’s more important than ever to have a clear and effective absence management policy in place.

Without a clear policy, it can be difficult to manage absences effectively, which can lead to a number of problems. By taking the time to invest in absence management strategies, you can ensure that you are reaping all the benefits of an absence management system.

What are the Benefits of an Absence Management System?

There are a number of benefits that come with implementing an absence management system in your organisation. Some key benefits include:

  • Improved Productivity: By investing in an employee’s job satisfaction and managing an employee’s absence proactively, absent employees are more likely to return to work feeling refreshed and motivated. As a result, they are likely to be more productive when they return to work.
  • Reduced Costs: By managing employee absences effectively, you can reduce the cost of lost productivity due to absences. In addition, by using an automated system, you can also save on the cost of manual tracking and managing employee absences.
  • Improved Employee Morale: When employees feel that their employer is taking steps to manage their absence in a fair and effective way, it can improve morale and job satisfaction. In turn, this can lead to improved employee retention rates.

8 Absence Management Strategies For 2022 & Beyond

Business Mental Health Training

A powerful strategy for effectively managing absence in the workplace is to invest in Business Mental Health Training. This type of training can help employees learn how to manage their mental health, both in and out of work.

In addition, business mental health training can also help managers learn how to effectively manage employees who are struggling with their mental health. By investing in this type of training, you can reduce employee absenteeism and improve productivity in the workplace.

For company-wide mental health training, we recommend a Mental Health Aware (MHFA) training course. This type of training course can help employees and managers alike learn how to identify the signs and symptoms of mental ill-health, how to have effective conversations about mental health, and how to signpost employees to the appropriate support. You can also appoint and train workplace Mental Health Champions to improve workplace culture and employee satisfaction.

Encourage a healthy work-life balance

A healthy work-life balance is essential for employee wellbeing. When employees are overworked, they are more likely to experience symptoms of burnout, which can lead to a need for time off work.

To encourage a healthy work-life balance, you should ensure that your employees have sufficient time for breaks and holidays. In addition, you should also encourage your employees to take advantage of their entitled leave, such as sick leave, if they are ill or need time to recover from illness, and parental leave if required.

You can also promote a healthy work-life balance by offering flexible working arrangements, such as the ability to work from home on occasion. This can help employees to better manage their work and personal commitments, potentially reducing the need to take time off work.

Return-to-work interviews

As part of an absence management policy, employees should be supported when they return to work. This can be done by conducting return-to-work interviews with employees after they have been absent from work.

Return-to-work interviews give you the opportunity to learn more about the reasons for an employee’s absence, and to identify any support that may be needed to help them stay at work. In addition, these interviews can also help to improve communication between managers and employees and to identify any areas of concern that may need to be addressed.

Leadership development 

Another key strategy for managing absence in the workplace is to invest in leadership development. This type of training can help managers learn how to effectively manage employees, including those who are absent from work.

In addition, leadership development can also help managers learn how to create a positive and supportive working environment, which can reduce the need for absences in the first place.

Training your leadership team in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) can also be beneficial. This type of training will equip managers with the skills and knowledge they need to effectively support employees who are struggling with their mental health, a leading cause of workplace absenteeism.

Mental Health First Aiders can also provide support to employees who are struggling with their mental health, signposting them to the appropriate support.

Sick pay schemes

While statutory sick pay (SSP) is often involved in an employee absence policy, companies can consider offering a more generous sick pay scheme. This could include offering full pay for the first few days of absence or offering partial pay for a longer period of time.

Though this may sound counterproductive, by offering a more generous sick pay scheme, employees may be encouraged to take the time they need to recover from an illness, rather than coming to work when they are not well enough to do so. In turn, this can help to reduce the spread of illness in the workplace and improve employee productivity.

In addition, a more generous sick pay scheme can also help to improve employee engagement, morale and job satisfaction, boosting retention rates. For a long-term investment in your business reputation, this is an important consideration.

Reasonable adjustments

Alongside clear and consistent guidance on company absence management policies, reasonable adjustments should also be made for employees with health conditions that may cause them to need time off work.

Reasonable adjustments could include changes to an employee’s working hours, offering a flexible working arrangement, or changes to the workplace environment. These adjustments can help to reduce the impact of a health condition on an employee’s ability to do their job and, as a result, can improve an employee’s health and prevent long-term absence.

Companies also have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees with a disability, under the Equality Act 2010.

Absence management software

If you are concerned about persistent short-term absence in your business, you can utilise software as part of your attendance management strategy.

This type of software can help you to track employee absences, identify patterns and causes of absence, and manage return-to-work interviews. In addition, some systems also offer the ability to request medical evidence from employees, which can be helpful in managing a long-term absence or mental health conditions.

Employee assistance programmes

An employee assistance programme (EAP) is a confidential counselling service that can support employees with a range of personal and work-related issues.

EAPs can help to address the underlying causes of absenteeism, for example stress, anxiety, depression or other causes. In turn, this can help to improve employee wellbeing and reduce the need for time off work.

To do this, you can find a suitable occupational health provider who can offer an EAP as part of their service. You can then sign your employees up for the programme, so they can access support when they need it.

Looking For Expert Business Mental Health Training?

By implementing some or all of these strategies, you can effectively manage employee absence in your business. It’s important to remember that each business is different, so you may need to tailor your approach to fit the specific needs of your organisation.

If you’re looking for expert business mental health training, we can help. We offer a range of Business Mental Health Training courses, which can equip you and your team with the skills and knowledge you need to support employees who may be struggling with their mental health. 

For more information, get in touch with us today.